Born on April 30, 1900, in Nova Scotia to a prosperous family, handsome Canadian-born actor David Manners moved to the U.S. as a young boy. As a college student at the University of Toronto, Manners developed an interest in the stage and acted in a number of productions. In the late 1920s, when studios were looking for stage actors with voices resonant enough for early sound film technology, Manners was discovered for films while in a stage role. Thanks to his handsome visage and sturdy voice, he was almost an immediate success, quickly working his way up from uncredited roles. In 1930, he landed a contract with Warner Bros./First National.

David Manners and Billie DoveDavid Manners

LEFT: Manners escorts Billie Dove in this 1931 photo. RIGHT: Manners with his dog in an early 1930s studio portrait

On loan from Warner Bros., his fortunes rose when he was cast as Jonathan Harker in Universal's Dracula (1931; with Bela Lugosi, a success which he followed up in The Mummy (1932; with Boris Karloff) and The Black Cat (1934; with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi).

the films of david manners

The Truth About Youth (1930)

Myrna Loy and David Manners

Manners falls under the spell of vamp Myrna Loy in the Warner Bros./First National drama The Truth About Youth

The Miracle Woman (1931)

David Manners and Barbara Stanwyck

With Barbara Stanwyck in the Columbia drama The Miracle Woman

The Death Kiss (1932)

David Manners and Adrienne Ames

From the independently produced comedy The Death Kiss with Adrienne Ames

A Bill of Divorcement (1932)

David MannersKatharine Hepburn, Paul Cavanagh, Billie Burke, David Manners, and Elizabeth Patterson

From the RKO drama A Bill of Divorcement. LEFT: Studio portrait. RIGHT: With Katharine Hepburn, Paul Cavanagh, Billie Burke, and Elizabeth Patterson

Man Wanted (1932)

David Manners and Kay Francis

With Kay Francis in the Warner Bros. romance Man Wanted

From Hell to Heaven (1933)

David Manners and Adrienne Ames

With Adrienne Ames in the Paramount drama From Hell to Heaven

Torch Singer (1933)

David Manners and Claudette Colbert

With Claudette Colbert in the Paramount musical drama Torch Singer

The Black Cat (1934)

David Manners, Boris Karloff, and Bela LugosiDavid Manners and Jacqueline WellsDavid Manners and Jacqueline Wells

From the Universal horror flick The Black Cat. LEFT: With Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. CENTER: With Jacqueline Wells, who later changed her screen name to Julie Bishop. RIGHT: Running lines with Wells

Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935)

Douglass Montgomery, Claude Rains, and David Manners

With Douglass Montgomery and Claude Rains in Universal's horror flick Mystery of Edwin Drood

later years

Although Manners proved to be a popular leading man in the early 1930s, by the mid 1930s he had been relegated to supporting roles at bigger studios and starring roles in poverty-row programmers, including Monogram's The Moonstone (1934; with Phyllis Barry), the Majestic comedy The Perfect Clue (1935; with Betty Blythe), and the Republic drama Hearts in Bondage (1936; with Mae Clarke). Following his supporting role in RKO's A Woman Rebels (1936; with Katharine Hepburn and Herbert Marshall), he walked away from films and moved to the desert, near Victorville, California. On occasion, he acted on stage through the 1950s and maintained a cast directory entry and agent into the early 1940s. Into his middle years, Manners concentrated on writing and published several novels. His partner of 30 years, writer Frederic William Mercer, passed away in 1978. Sadly, David Manners passed away at the age of 98 on December 23, 1998, leaving no survivors.

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A Woman Rebels (1936) with Katharine Hepburn, Herbert Marshall, Elizabeth Allan, and Donald Crisp
Hearts in Bondage (1936) with James Dunn, Mae Clarke, Fritz Leiber, and Ben Alexander
Lucky Fugitives (1936) with Maxine Doyle
Jalna (1935) with Kay Johnson, Ian Hunter, C. Aubrey Smith, Nigel Bruce, and Peggy Wood
The Perfect Clue (1935) with Skeets Gallagher and Betty Blythe
Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) with Claude Rains, Douglass Montgomery, Heather Angel, and Valerie Hobson
The Moonstone (1934) with Phyllis Barry
The Great Flirtation (1934) with Elissa Landi, Adolphe Menjou, and Lynne Overman
The Black Cat (1934) with Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and Julie Bishop
The Luck of a Sailor (1934)
Roman Scandals (1933) with Eddie Cantor, Ruth Etting, Gloria Stuart, Edward Arnold, Alan Mowbray, and Charles Wilson
Torch Singer (1933) with Claudette Colbert and Ricardo Cortez
The Devil's in Love (1933) with Victor Jory, Loretta Young, Vivienne Osborne, and J. Carrol Naish
The Girl in 419 (1933) with James Dunn, Gloria Stuart, William Harrigan, Shirley Grey, and Jack La Rue
The Warrior's Husband (1933) with Elissa Landi, Ernest Truex, and Marjorie Rambeau
From Hell to Heaven (1933) with Carole Lombard, Jack Oakie, Adrienne Ames, Sidney Blackmer, and Shirley Grey
The Mummy (1932) with Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, Arthur Byron, and Edward Van Sloan
The Death Kiss (1932) with Adrienne Ames, Bela Lugosi, John Wray, and Edward Van Sloan
They Call It Sin (1932) with Loretta Young, George Brent, Una Merkel, and Louis Calhern
A Bill of Divorcement (1932) with John Barrymore, Billie Burke, and Katharine Hepburn
Crooner (1932) with Ann Dvorak, Ken Murray, J. Carrol Naish, and Guy Kibbee
Stranger in Town (1932) with Ann Dvorak, Raymond Hatton, Noah Beery, and Lyle Talbot
Man Wanted (1932) with Kay Francis, Una Merkel, Andy Devine, and Edward Van Sloan
Beauty and the Boss (1932) with Marian Marsh and Warren William
Lady with a Past (1932) with Constance Bennett, Ben Lyon, Bruce Cabot, and Bill Elliott
The Greeks Had a Word for Them (1932) with Joan Blondell, Ina Claire, and Madge Evans
The Ruling Voice (1931) with Walter Huston, Loretta Young, and Doris Kenyon
The Last Flight (1931) with Richard Barthelmess, Johnny Mack Brown, and Helen Chandler
The Miracle Woman (1931) with Barbara Stanwyck and Charles Middleton
The Millionaire (1931) with George Arliss, James Cagney, and Noah Beery
Dracula (1931) with Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, Dwight Frye, and Edward Van Sloan
The Right to Love (1930) with Ruth Chatterton and Paul Lukas
Mothers Cry (1930) with Dorothy Peterson, Helen Chandler, and Sidney Blackmer
The Truth About Youth (1930) with Loretta Young and Myrna Loy
Kismet (1930) with Loretta Young, Sidney Blackmer, and Montagu Love
Sweet Mama (1930) with Alice White
He Knew Women (1930)
Journey's End (1930) with Colin Clive
The Sky Hawk (1929) with Helen Chandler and Joyce Compton

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The Life and Films of David Manners
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Watch David Manners in the 1932 comedy mystery film The Death Kiss

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